i newspaper, June 26, 2017

‘To dampen’ is to make moist. The verb required here is ‘damp’, meaning to suppress. It is often used with ‘down’, as in ‘he damped down the remains of the fire’.


Britain’s Got Talent star Susan Boyle is being cruelly taunted, intimdated and attacked by a gang of youths, it was reported last night.

Witnesses have claimed singing sensation Boyle, who suffers from Asperger Syndrome, is being ‘hounded’ by a group of 15 young people who live near her in West Lothian, Scotland.

Mail Online, June 25, 2017

A quick spellcheck would have picked up ‘intimdated’. It is insensitive, and probably wrong, to say someone ‘suffers’ from a condition – just say she ‘has’ it. It is ‘Asperger’s syndrome’, with an apostrophe ‘s’ and lower case on syndrome, not a cap.


The Times Special Edition

All these clippings are from The Times, June 21, 2017.

This is a ridiculous intro. There is no need to try to dress up a perfectly good story. I would do this:

A pensioner who says he hates cats because they kill birds and wildlife has been jailed for 12 weeks after shooting a neighbour’s Siamese.

‘A private decision’? What’s the alternative, ‘after a public vote’? Even if the agent makes a fatuous statement like this, there is no need to treat it as holy writ and put it in the intro. I would do this:

Sir Daniel Day-Lewis, the winner of three Oscars, has announced his retirement from acting at the age of 60.

The least a sub should do is to get the same age in the copy and the headline. And Wilbur Smith is so well known that he should be named in the heading, not reduced to ‘Writer’. You could do this:

£10m deal
for Wilbur
Smith, 84

though ideally it is better not to split a name between two lines. However the content is more important than the rules.


Why is the quokka described as the world’s happiest animal? You won’t find out from this piece, but it turns out to be a combination of its friendliness and its apparent smile. It would be worth mentioning in the context of this story that it is endangered, being down to a few thousand individuals. The highlighted paragraph makes no sense. This is a case for applying the rule ‘If in doubt, leave it out’.

Another tedious intro. How about

Rock star Brian May, who has fought high-profile campaigns against foxhunting and culling badgers, has a new target.

The 69-year-old Queen guitarist claims British Airways has ruined the view from its first class seats.

I think this clearer format is better at highlighting the serious nature of May’s complaint.

I had no idea what this intro was about but I was directed by a younger person to a website called TV Tropes (‘the all-devouring pop-culture Wiki’) on which the following appears:
“Dudes! If the tent is a-rockin’ don’t come a-knockin’!”
Charlie to Sam and Dean, Supernatural
I think it is safe to say that dudes who are in tune with this are on the whole not going to be Times readers, and try as I may I cannot see the connection with suitcases on wheels. This is pointless showing off.



The Times, June 17, 2017

Principle is a noun meaning concept, morality or belief, for example ‘her guiding principle is that the chief sub is always right’. The word needed here is principal, an adjective meaning  ‘chief’ or ‘main’.


i newspaper, June 12, 2017

First par: There should be commas each side of Damian Green.

Second par: ‘Formally’ means ‘officially’. The word needed here is ‘formerly’, meaning ‘previously’.

Third par: I would cap Prime Minister’s Questions, in line with other ministerial titles in the story.

Last par: Three roles in one paragraph is two too many. It is inconsistent to have both ‘Cabinet’ and ‘cabinet’. I would do it as follows:

The role of First Secretary of State, previously held by George Osborne, was not in Mrs May’s first Cabinet formed last July. It is senior to other Cabinet ministers and is often seen as equivalent to Deputy Prime Minister.


Sunday Times, June 11, 2017

Re the sub-deck: I don’t think you can ask a question without having a question mark, but it would look awkward in this construction. There are two ways of dealing with this. First, there is no law which says the writer’s name must be at the end, so you could put:

With the rise of delivery services, Katrina Burroughs asks: Have fitted cabinets had their day?

Or you could remove the need for a question mark:

With the rise of delivery services, fitted cabinets may have had their day, says Katrina Burroughs